Holmes’ attorneys offer guilty plea to avoid death penalty

DENVER — Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes’ defense attorneys offered to have him plead guilty and accept a life in prison sentence in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, court documents show.

Prosecutors have yet to accept the offer made Wednesday.

“Mr. Holmes made an offer to the prosecution to resolve this case by pleading guilty and spending the rest of his life in prison,” defense attorneys wrote in court documents.

“As previously stated in court, counsel for Mr. Holmes are still exploring a mental health defense, and counsel will vigorously present and argue any and all appropriate defenses at a trial or sentencing proceeding, as necessary,” the documents read.

The offer comes just one day after the Colorado legislature failed to adopt a bill that would ban the death penalty.  One of Holmes’ defense attorneys Daniel King attended hearings about the death penalty repeal.

Judge William Sylvester entered a not guilty plea for Holmes on March 12, despite objections from his lawyers that they were not yet ready to make a plea. The judge left open the possibility for Holmes to enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea at a later date.

According to the Colorado Bar Association, an insanity defense refers to “a person who is so diseased or defective in mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to that act is not accountable.”

If Holmes’ enters such a plea, he would waive all medical confidentiality and will have to turn over the name of any doctor or psychologist who may have treated him, according to Colorado law.

Holmes four-week trial is expected to start August 5.

Holmes faces 166 counts in July 20 shooting

Holmes is charged with a total of 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges.

Authorities say he booby-trapped his apartment with explosives, then traveled to the movie theater armed with four weapons, tear gas and body armor planning to kill audience members during a screening of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.”

Witnesses said the gunman roamed the theater, shooting randomly as people tried to scramble away or cowered between seats.

Among the 41 calls to 911, one stands out. In the 27-second call, at least 30 shots can be heard amid the chaos.

At his preliminary hearing in January, police who responded described hellish scenes inside the theater and described finding Holmes, dressed in body armor, standing outside, seeming “detached from it all,” according to Officer Jason Oviatt.